This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.

Jan. 4

Corporate personhood takes a new leap forward Monday as a Marin County motorist challenges his traffic ticket by arguing it was OK to drive in the carpool lane because his corporation was with him.

Jonathan Frieman, a local activist and nonprofit consultant, was ticketed Oct. 2 for driving in the carpool lane during restricted hours; the officer apparently wasn't impressed when Frieman showed him his incorporation papers. A traffic court hearing is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

The fine for such a violation is $478, but Frieman, 59, of San Rafael, says that if the court rules against him Monday, he's prepared to appeal the case all the way to the California Supreme Court in an effort to expose the impracticality of corporate personhood.

Corporate personhood, of course, has been at the heart of the ongoing debate over campaign finance ever since the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling unleashed a torrent of corporate contributions.

"Corporations are imaginary entities, and we've let them run wild," Frieman said in a news release. "Their original intent 200 years ago at the dawn of our nation was to serve human beings. So I'm wresting back that power by making their personhood serve me."


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California Vehicle Code section 470 defines a "person" as "a natural person, firm, copartnership, association, limited liability company, or corporation." Section 21655.5, under which Frieman was cited, states that "no person shall drive a vehicle upon lanes except in conformity with the instructions imparted by the official traffic control devices."

Ford Greene, Frieman's attorney and a San Anselmo councilman, said the Vehicle Code makes "person" and "corporation" equivalent, so "when a corporation is present in one's car, it is sufficient to qualify as a two-person occupancy for commuter lane purposes. When the corporate presence in our electoral process is financially dominant, by parity it appears appropriate to recognize such presence in an automobile."

Jan. 4

I got a good laugh from an email I received yesterday morning from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

"Today, the National Republican Congressional Committee is welcoming Jerry McNerney back to Washington with a plan he won't be able to resist: the House Democrats' Retirement Package. This is an incredible offer for the California Democrat. With voters poised to boot McNerney out of office in the next election, why not just bow out now?" the email said.

"Why wait until voters show you the door in 2014?" NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said in the release. "House Democrats continue to support tax and spend policies and a big government agenda. If McNerney doesn't retire soon, voters are going to deliver his retirement for him."

McNerney, D-Stockton, was one of 10 House Democrats whose districts were targeted with this message, and the only one in California. I just can't imagine why the NRCC continues to see McNerney as vulnerable, given that he whupped the NRCC's anointed "Young Gun," Ricky Gill, of Lodi, by 11.2 percentage points in November -- the largest victory margin McNerney has ever had. He also now enjoys the largest Democratic voter registration edge (12 points) he's ever had, so it's hard to see how the NRCC sees a foothold there.

But hey, email is free, right? The true test will be when we see how much money the NRCC does, or doesn't, put behind the next Republican to challenge McNerney.